A U.S. Supreme Court decision issued Monday raises a question muttered by many a disgruntled law student: Just what do law professors know about the real world anyhow?
Not much, if the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the purported right of the nation's law schools to bar military recruiters from their premises is taken into consideration. The high court unanimously rejected the professors' claim that their free speech rights entitle them to bar recruiters while their universities accept hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.
From the beginning, it was a preposterous stance. What's disturbing, however, is not that such a self-serving, shallow argument was made, but that a federal appeals court supported the professors' claim.
At any rate, the appeals court ruling has been repudiated, and the longstanding proposition that institutions accepting federal aid must abide by federal rules has been reaffirmed.
The law schools, represented by a conglomerate calling itself the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), protested the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule regarding homosexuals by banning military recruiters. FAIR contended that allowing military recruiters at a law school was tantamount to forcing law schools to endorse "don't ask, don't tell." That the law schools weren't required to say anything didn't seem to matter to FAIR.
It mattered, however, to the court. Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts contended that that's the point.
"Nothing about recruiting suggests that law schools agree with any speech by recruiters and nothing in (federal law) restricts what the law schools may say about the military's policies," he wrote.
This is a free country, where no one is forced to accept federal money. Indeed, these universities have the chance to set an example by supporting their law professors in rejecting both military recruiters and federal money. To do otherwise would be hypocritical, making it look as though they place money above principal.